Creamy Mushroom Salad with Vegan Dressing
This creamy mushroom salad is a delicious combination of crisp spinach, rich and savoury coated mushrooms and chickpeas, and a creamy vegan cashew salad dressing. It’s full of goodness and so easy to prepare, making for the perfect light lunch.
What is creamy mushroom salad?
We’re getting into that time of year when it’s out with the stews and soups, and in with some lighter meals and salads. We’re still having some colder days here, so I’m not quite ready for super fresh and light foods yet, but salads like this one really hit the spot.
If you’re like me and you love mushrooms, then you’re going to love this easy salad recipe. Although it’s really simple, this spinach and sauteed mushroom salad really puts focus on mushrooms as a star ingredient.
I haven’t gone crazy on the different components, and instead have focused on using just a few ingredients which work really well together. This creamy mushroom salad is anything but boring, despite the few ingredients needed.
The mushrooms are fried up to really bring out their flavour, then mixed with chickpeas and coated in ground seeds, nutritional yeast, soy sauce and a touch of maple syrup. They’re served on top of crisp spinach leaves, then drizzled with a generous amount of a healthy, cashew based creamy vegan salad dressing.
It’s easy and requires minimal prep time, and can be enjoyed hot or cold. It makes the perfect light lunch or tasty side dish that everybody will enjoy.
Why I love this spinach and mushroom salad
I love mushrooms as they are little nutritional powerhouses. They are filled with vitamin D, so are great for those of us who live in less sunny climates. Not only that, they are rich in zinc, potassium, and magnesium, contributing to a healthy immune system and lowered blood pressure.
Per calorie, mushrooms are a rich source of fiber and protein, so can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight when consumed in place of calorie-dense foods.
This creamy mushroom salad is really healthy with only whole food ingredients, so fits in well for those following a WFPB diet. Even though it’s super creamy and indulgent, the cashew salad dressing contains no processed ingredients.
Spinach is the perfect base for this easy mushroom salad, rich in iron, calcium and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals.
What are the salad components?
This creamy mushroom salad has three main components- the mushrooms, the greens, and the homemade vegan salad dressing.
The mushrooms are fried off, mixed with chickpeas, and coated with ground seeds and some deliciously umami ingredients.
They develop a coating from the seeds which increases their protein value and makes them much more substantial. Mushrooms are so full of flavour and these extra ingredients take them up another notch.
I’ve opted for a spinach mushroom salad, but you can choose a different salad leaf if you’d rather. Kale or rainbow chard would work well, but I would recommend massaging the leaves to soften them.
The final component is the creamy vegan dressing. This is based on cashews, which go so creamy when they’re soaked in boiling water and blended. The addition of miso, mustard, garlic and lemon really takes this salad dressing recipe up a notch.
What ingredients are needed for creamy mushroom salad?
Mushrooms– I would recommend using chestnut mushrooms or baby portobellas for this recipe, as they keep some volume and shape when fried. White or button mushrooms cook down too much and will leave you with very little volume. If you want to keep it even easier, you can use pre-sliced chestnut mushrooms.
Chickpeas– For some extra fibre and protein, I’ve added a 400g/14oz can of chickpeas. Make sure you drain and rinse them before adding to the pan.
Seeds– I’ve used a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but you could use either. Toast them before pulsing to a coarse crumb for the best flavour.
Nutritional yeast– This adds a savoury, cheesy flavour to the creamy mushroom salad. I wouldn’t suggest skipping this!
Soy sauce– This is a great ingredient for adding rich saltiness.
Maple syrup– We add a tiny amount of maple syrup, both for sweetness and to help the seed crumbs to stick.
Fresh spinach– Spinach is my favourite base for a salad. If you’re not eating it straight away, make sure your spinach is nice and dry before packing it up for meal prep. If it’s wet, it will go soggy quicker. I prefer baby spinach in salads.
The creamy vegan dressing
This spinach mushroom salad is accompanied by a really delicious cashew salad dressing. It really compliments the flavours of the creamy mushroom salad with a lovely tanginess.
A lot of people miss creaminess when they first go vegan, but there are so many great options for dairy free creamy salad dressings, like this one!
Cashews– Cashews make a healthy, protein rich oil free dressing. Soak them in boiling water for half an hour to soften them before blending.
Oat milk– Use a creamy plant milk to thin out the vegan salad dressing to the right consistency.
White wine vinegar and lemon juice– These both add acidity and brightness, which cuts through the creaminess and balances out the flavour.
Miso– For another umami boost, a little bit of miso goes a long way. If you don’t like miso, feel free to leave this out.
Dijon mustard– Tangy and a little bit spicy, dijon mustard is the perfect accompaniment to a creamy vegan dressing.
Garlic– I love garlic and will put it in most recipes if I can! If the flavour of raw garlic is too strong for you, you can use roasted garlic paste instead.
Sea salt– A little bit of sea salt gives the dressing a big flavour boost.
You need to use a blender to make the cashew salad dressing, but you can use either a stick/immersion blender or a small bullet type blender. Stick blenders work very well when you’re working with smaller volumes, so sometimes I will choose to use this over my full sized blender.
The seeds grind up best in a bullet blender or spice grinder, but at a push you could also use a pestle and mortar.
Asides from this, you will just need a frying pan to fry up the mushrooms.
How to make creamy mushroom salad
To begin, soak the cashews in boiling water to soften them whilst you prepare the mushrooms.
Add the toasted seeds to a bullet blender or spice/coffee grinder and pulse until they form a coarse crumb.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the mushrooms. Fry, stirring, for 7-8 minutes, until all of the liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off.
Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the pan, and stir.
Sprinkle over the ground toasted seeds, nutritional yeast, soy sauce and maple syrup. Stir well to coat the mushrooms then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the mushrooms from the heat.
Drain the cashews, then blend them until smooth along with the oat milk, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, miso, dijon mustard, garlic and sea salt.
Either serve straight away and enjoy it warm, or let the mushrooms cool and have a cold mushroom salad later. To serve creamy mushroom salad, portion the mushroom mixture onto a bed of spinach, then drizzle over the dressing.
My top tip for cooking with mushrooms
Don’t wash the mushrooms! I’ve talked about this before in my mushroom pie recipe, but the easiest and best way to remove dirt from mushrooms is by using a mushroom brush or a dry paper towel.
This cleans off the dirt without causing them to become waterlogged. Washing mushrooms under a tap can cause them to become full of water, making them wet and flavourless when cooked.
You can serve this creamy mushroom salad as it is for a light and healthy meal option, or you can serve it alongside another dish as part of a larger meal. You can try:
- Serving it on the side of some warm crusty bread. Scoop it on top of the slices for an alternative bruschetta.
- Enjoying it alongside a healthy carb based salad such as my vegan rice salad.
- Eating spinach mushroom salad as a side salad to a grilled protein such as tofu or tempeh.
- Or taking it along to a potluck or buffet (I would recommend mixing it all together before doing this, so people get a bit of everything with each forkful).
Ingredient substitutes or additions
Mushrooms– You can swap chestnut mushrooms out for something more exotic like shiitakes. If you’re at a push, you could use pre-cooked or pickled mushrooms.
Chickpeas– Swap chickpeas out for any canned bean you might have in your cupboard. I would opt for those with a milder flavour so as not to overwhelm the mushrooms.
Make it gluten free– Swap the soy sauce for tamari.
Dressing– If you want a creamy vegan dressing which is not as rich in flavour, then you can reduce the amount of all ingredients except for cashews and milk.
Protein– Add slices of your favourite protein to the top of this creamy mushroom salad. I love to use tofu or tempeh for a quick and easy protein boost. You can grill or lightly fry it first to give it a crispy outer. You could add some of your favourite nuts to this mushroom spinach salad too. I like to dry toast walnuts or pecans in a pan and scatter them over the top.
Carbs– Add cooked rice or pasta, or mix through boiled or roasted potatoes for a potato and mushroom salad.
Fruit– You could add some fruit such as pears or apple to this salad for a touch of sweetness. Slice them into thin matchsticks. Or, make a mushroom avocado salad (yes, avocado is a fruit!).
You can keep the salad for up to 3 days in the fridge, but I would recommend storing the dressing separately so the spinach and mushroom salad doesn’t go soggy. You can reuse little jars, or buy some specifically. Make sure the mushrooms are completely cold before putting them with the spinach.
If you want a warm salad, you can chuck the mushrooms back into a pan to warm them up, before serving them on top of the spinach and topping with creamy vegan dressing.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing any of the components of this creamy mushroom salad.
If you like healthy lunch recipes…
You might like my favourite easy salad recipes:
- Babycorn salad with Asian dressing
- Tofu buddha bowl with peanut sauce
- Vegan tofu katsu salad
- Miso edamame and cauliflower salad
- Mexican buddha bowl with fajita veg
Creamy Mushroom Salad
- Large frying pan
- Blender (full sized, bullet or immersion)
For the salad
- 4 tbsp mixed seeds toasted
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 500 g mushrooms
- 1 400g can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- 100 g spinach
For the dressing
- 30 g cashews
- 3 tbsp oat milk
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp miso
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove peeled
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- To begin, soak the cashews in boiling water to soften them whilst you prepare the mushrooms.
- Add the toasted seeds to the blender and pulse until they form a coarse crumb.
- Heat the oil in the frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the mushrooms. Fry, stirring, for 7-8 minutes, until all of the liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off.
- Add the chickpeas to the pan, and stir, then sprinkle over the ground seeds, nutritional yeast, soy sauce and maple syrup. Stir well to coat the mushrooms then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove the mushrooms from the heat.
- Drain the cashews, then blend them until smooth along with the oat milk, white wine vinegar, miso, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic and sea salt.
- Either serve straight away and enjoy it warm, or let the mushrooms cool for a cold salad later. Serve by portioning the mushroom mixture onto a bed of spinach, then drizzling over the dressing.
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